Country club refinances to pay off debt

Published 5:31 pm Monday, April 4, 2016

After months of concern, the Washington Yacht & Country Club is working to put its financial troubles behind it.

On March 30, the club closed on a refinancing agreement to pay off more than $1.43 million of debt to First Citizens Bank.

The club’s membership raised about $400,000 out of their own pockets to keep the club afloat, and members created an LLC group of 24 people to handle the remaining debt balance, according to a press release.

“They were made aware of the country club’s financial situation, and they dug deep in order to keep our doors open,” club President Daniel Bergevin said of the membership.

Bergevin said the financial problems started during the economic downturn in 2008, as the golfing and boating industries took a hit, creating a trickle-down effect several years afterward.

“Reduction of members is ultimately the demise of all country clubs,” Bergevin said. “We’re seeing upticks in both of those again.”

“The restructuring and reduction of the club’s debt has resulted in a tremendous reduction of annual debt service and returned the club to profitability. The club’s members and the LLC are to be commended,” the release stated.

Along with the refinancing, Brooks Patti, formerly the director of golf, was promoted to chief operating officer as of March 30, and Valeria Harrell is serving as administrative services director.

Bergevin said Patti’s new position allows him to maintain a presence at the country club and better able to handle the daily operations.

“The club’s been run for more than two decades by volunteer boards, and ultimately, that is not a recipe for success in any business,” Bergevin said.

To keep a strong membership base, Washington Yacht & Country Club is also starting a membership drive for the next six months, with a goal of 150 new members, according to the press release.

“We are now back in a profitability standpoint. We will be around for decades to come,” Bergevin said.